I want to get to that point where success no longer matters.
I have spent so many years chasing this illusive butterfly called recognition.
Fame has iridescent wings, charts the skies, knows the world from an elevated position, alights on the most beautiful flowers and sips on nectar. How I have watched and envied the flight of famous others and lamented my earthbound state as I crawled back into my decaying cocoon waiting, wondering if my own wings would ever unfurl.
Seasons come and go and still I crawl around the undergrowth in search of nurture.
Is it enough to know that excellence is its own reward? Is it enough to know that my work will still be enjoyed in a hundred years time when an unborn generation knows me better than they know their lovers and talks to my spirit as if I possessed all-knowing angelic comprehension? Just as I talk to Emily (Bronte).
The real question is: was it enough for Emily?
I try to follow her traverse across the moors that nourished her spirit and fed her wild imagination. I look for portents in the clouds and the hills. I do this in my imagination because I live in Sydney. Suburban Sydney at that. I have little fodder for my soul, even less for my flight. Few butterflies pass this way and I feel as if I daily battle against an avalanche of competitors and contributors in my field.
The woods are bloody crowded these days. Not even a wolf growls and grandma orders takeaway.
To be free of this longing for recognition I must let go of my dream.
That’s like abandoning a friend who was there for you when no-one else was. A friend who got me through long dark nights and lonely days that stretched into years. I have met and spoken to drug addicts who have explained their own addiction this way and spoken fondly of the heroin or cocaine that was there for them when everybody else had gone. But addiction is addiction and it takes up all your time.
I am an addict. I am addicted to the pursuit of my dream and it’s killing me inasmuch as it is consuming my life. I have given so much of my life to my art without perceivable reward. Any other field would have awarded me the highest honours by now. More than a gold watch. More than my own office with a view. I have served my ambition faithfully for decades. More than I dare to enumerate. My dedication to my art has been like a crazy zealot’s defence of a cock-eyed religion. Where is the guarantee of God? Of heaven? Of hell? Of success? There never was any promise.
Okay butterfly. You fly blind my friend and your choice of flowers is random.
And worst of all, you fly without a net. You fear the net, right?
I won’t give up my writing, no, but I will give up on it. I will let go of the idea of success and all the appended dreams that went with it. There must be some group one can join. How do addicts rebuild their lives? And does anything else compare?
The answer is life in all its myriad variations. I hope its not too late to re-join the living.